Broughton may look and feel like a relatively affluent area. But behind the scenes, a surprising number of people here struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table.
The Edinburgh Food Project is an independent charity established in 2012 (SCO43220). Its 170 volunteers currently hand out 2,000 food parcels per month through seven outlets across the capital. One parcel in three goes to a child.
Problems close to home
The city-centre outlet is based at Broughton St Mary’s Parish Church on Bellevue Crescent, where around 20 volunteers distribute 200 parcels per month.
Food poverty is nothing new in the city centre – the charity has been working here for over a decade. And, sadly, things are getting worse.
EFP Director Bethany Biggar says the number of parcels distributed between January and October this year was over double that distributed in the whole of 2022.
Not enough money
The biggest problem today is, unsurprisingly, the cost-of-living crisis. ‘Everything is more expensive and there simply isn’t enough money to go round,’ says Biggar.
Poorly paid jobs, minimum wages and zero-hour contracts play a part, with one in five food parcels going to someone in a ‘working household’.
But Biggar is particularly scathing about the social-security system: ‘Not only are many people put on the wrong benefits, but the amount they receive is based on nothing – it’s a number plucked out of the air. It’s totally inadequate to meet their needs.’
As part of the Trussell Trust network, EFP is campaigning with others to ensure that benefits be made sufficient to cover the basic cost of food, fuel and clothes.
How EFP works
Clients are referred to the EFP either by the charity’s own money advisers or by other professional services helping people in crisis – for example, social workers, housing officers and NHS staff.
To those with such a referral, the organisation can provide emergency food supplies to cook or heat up, toiletries and cleaning products.
The aim, though, is to help people not only in their moments of most acute difficulty, but to tackle other underlying causes.
So, for anyone who already has a food-bank referral, EFP staff can also offer unlimited, free, specialist advice and support concerning housing, welfare rights, benefits, debt, budgeting, energy saving, grants, mental-health issues, employment, and help available from other support services.
Appointments aren’t necessary for the advice. Clients can just pop in when they come to the food bank on Mondays and Thursdays (1pm–3pm).
Ways to help
If you’d like to help the work of the Edinburgh Food Project, there are several ways you can do so.
- Donations of food and other items can be left in local supermarkets. The nearest in this part of town are Sainsbury’s on Howe Street and Waitrose Comely Bank. Tesco on Broughton Road also accepts donations, from where they are forwarded to five food banks run by a separate charity which operates in Leith.
- A list of useful items appears at the foot of the page, although seasonal items such as mince pies and advent calendars are also welcome at this time of year.
- Gifts of money. Follow this link to find out how.
- Volunteering. Details of the kind of people the Broughton food bank is looking for can be found here.
- Corporate support from local businesses.
Contact the Edinburgh Food Project
Tel. 0131 444 0030
Edinburgh Food Project Office (no food distribution)
Unit 12 New Lairdship Yards
This article is part of a joint effort by the the Scottish Beacon – a collaboration of 22 independent, community-based publications based all over Scotland. By working together, we hope to amplify the stories from Scotland’s communities, as well as highlighting shared issues and potential solutions. To see the other articles from our partners, visit the Scottish Beacon.